New hive installation… only one problem

New bee hive installation – easy peasy

Our two hives from last year died over the winter so we need to do a new bee hive installation.  One of last years hives lived through until about 2 weeks ago… but it was clearly queenless when we checked it about a month ago.  Not sure what happened to either hive as they both had plenty of food when we went into the winter.  We had only taken one frame to harvest when they were at full swing.    We had many queen problems last year and that may have contributed to their lack of strength as a hive over the winter.  We also didn’t start feeding early enough and then we had a early hard freeze.

But yesterday we installed 2 new packages.  Each one of those boxes you see in the picture contains 2 pounds of bees.  That translates into about 2500 bees per package!

Starting over with a new hive installation

Starting over, but in a better position than last year.  Why?  Because we have plenty of frames with drawn out comb so the bees wont have to focus initially on simply drawing out comb.  It takes a huge amount of energy and resources for the bees to make wax and built comb.  There is also a fair amount of honey capped… although we have been warned that the honey may be fermented and that could cause a dysentery type situation if they eat too much of it.  I did test the honey and it didn’t taste fermented to me.  And like I said we did have bees in the one hive up until 2 weeks ago… so it may be fine.  Buy we’ll hold back on some of the capped frames and give them a little at a time.

One problem we did have… the queen got out of her cage when we were installing the east hive.  I was able to catch her and hold her.  I cant believe I didn’t get stung!  After a few minutes of panic… we realized we really only had one option and that was to put her in.  So I quickly “threw” her in the middle and Dave poured the package on top.  Yes, it really is like pouring… you turn the package of bees over and they spill out.  At least most spill out.   I saw the queen walking around on the top of a frame for a tad… saw multiple bees surround her in a non-menacing way.  She then started walking into the middle of the hive.  We then put the top on.

This queen has been with the package since California.  They were brought up here by the retailer and we picked the packages up Wednesday.  We didn’t end up installing them until Thursday… so I’m thinking she was with the bees for at least 3-4 days and maybe longer.  This is important because a colony of bees may kill a queen if they dont “connect” with her.  But over the days she was in the hive her pheromones were probably recognized by the colony and hopefully they wont kill her.

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    1. Yes, I do get the American Bee Journal as well as Bee Culture magazine. Both are great sources of information. I also follow a lot of online blogs for beekeepers and am part of a bee keepers club in my area. Bees are wild & aren’t like most other things we “keep” and I think having local resources is really important. Thanks for your suggestion!

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